In yet another act of barbarity, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan yesterday murdered the former president of the Mohmand Agency Press Club, Mukarram Khan Atif.
The senior reporter was shot three times in the head by two armed men whilst offering evening prayers in a mosque in Karkay village in the Shabqadar area of Charsadda, close to his residence. The Imam leading prayers was also injured in the attack. Mukarram had relocated to Charsadda from Mohmand recently after receiving threats from Taliban militants.
During a 15-year career he had worked for several media organisations, but was most recently employed as a correspondent for Pakistan's Dunya TV channel and as a stringer for Voice of America's Pashto-language Deewa Radio.
In a telephone call to journalists in Peshawar, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the murder. “We have been warning him to stop his propaganda against us in the foreign media. He did not include our version in his stories,” adding that several more journalists were on their hit list. It appears that the main reason he was killed was for working for an American-financed news organisation.
Atif's murder was strongly condemned by tribal journalists and by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. Tribal Union of Journalists president, Safdar Hayat Dawar, announced three days of mourning and a sit-in outside the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor's office in Peshawar. Information minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and President Zardari also condemned the killing.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to operate as a journalist. According to Reporters without Borders, 10 journalists were killed last year as a result of their work. The website of the Tribal Union of Journalists lists ten of its members who have been killed since 2005.